Can You Succeed in Marriage?
1-4. (a) Why is there good reason to be seriously concerned about one’s prospects for a successful marriage? (b) To succeed in marriage, what must be recognized about its origin? Why? (Genesis 2:21-24; Matthew 19:4-6)
IF THE time comes when you want to get married, it is natural that you should want your marriage to be successful. Judging from the skyrocketing divorce rate, it might seem your prospects aren’t very good. In some places the number of divorces are approaching the number of marriages! If you marry, how can you prevent problems from wrecking your marital happiness?
2 Consideration of the origin of marriage will shed much light for you upon both the problems and the solution. Many believe that marriage is of human origin, that in some way it was worked out in the distant past by men. But this idea is at the very root of today’s disastrous family breakdown. Why? Because it shoves aside as unimportant the very finest counsel on marital problems.
3 Marriage is really of a higher origin. Almighty God himself created the first man and woman, gave them powers of reproduction and joined them together in marriage. God also provided instructions—recorded in the Bible—on how to make a success of marriage. Following these instructions closely is what will bring you happiness when you get married.
4 Some persons may object, saying that people have long had the Bible and yet their marriages have been failures. The increased divorce rate, they say, is because fewer couples are willing to put up with unhappy marriages. There is some truth in this argument. Millions of unhappy couples do possess the Bible. But have they read it? More importantly, have they applied its principles in their lives? The simple fact is, the Bible’s advice has already helped hundreds of thousands of couples to handle their family problems successfully. If you want a happy marriage, it can help you too.
ENJOYABLE SEX IN MARRIAGE
5-10. (a) What unrealistic view as to sexual pleasure do many people have? (b) How can the applying of Bible counsel about unselfish giving help a couple to find contentment in this aspect of married life?
5 You have probably heard it said that sex is at the root of many marriage problems, and this is true. This is often due to unrealistic views sponsored by the news media. Popular books, magazines and movies depict couples who “fall in love” and live “happily ever after.” Literature also highlights sexual pleasures, often raising expectations beyond what realization fulfills. To illustrate, one young wife explained: “I guess I wanted sex to be some psychedelic jackpot that made the whole world light up like a pinball machine. I mean, it was all right but I kept thinking, ‘Is that all there is? Is that all there really is?’”
6 Though, as a youth, you likely are not married, do you see the problem of this young wife? Her overriding concern was her own sexual enjoyment, and she was not satisfied. This is the complaint of many women—that their husbands don’t satisfy them sexually. In such case, what can a wife do? Does the Bible say anything helpful? Note the straightforward encouragement it provides: “Let the husband render to his wife her due; but let the wife also do likewise to her husband. Do not be depriving each other of it, except by mutual consent.”—1 Corinthians 7:3, 5.
7 According to this Bible counsel, if you get married, you should be concerned primarily with pleasing whom? Should it be your own self, as was the primary interest of the above-mentioned wife? No, but, rather, your mate. The underlying principle here in the Bible is of giving. The welfare and pleasure of your marriage mate, not yourself, is properly paramount. This is in harmony with the further Bible principles: “Let each one keep seeking, not his own advantage, but that of the other person.” “Love . . . does not look for its own interests.”—1 Corinthians 10:24; 13:4, 5.
8 But you may ask: “When I get married, how can seeking to please my wife or my husband increase my satisfaction?” Well, enjoyment of marital intercourse is largely dependent upon the mind and heart. Thus, if you view sexual relations as an opportunity to display deep love for your husband, you will more frequently, as a side result, find that you will enjoy the relations to a higher degree. When a wife’s mind is not principally on her own sensations, she often relaxes, and the personal pleasure she really desires in the marriage act can be realized as a natural consequence.
9 The greatest teacher to walk the earth, Jesus Christ, indicated that giving of oneself will, in turn, bring a person satisfaction. He said: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” This principle has time and again proved true in connection with intimate marriage relations.—Acts 20:35.
10 There is another reason why applying Bible counsel is likely to work toward your own satisfaction when you get married. It will do more than anything else to move your husband to act unselfishly toward you, being more considerate of your needs and desires. It has happened this way in many marriages. The one taking the initiative in giving receives back in kind. Thus the Bible urges the showing of unselfishness and love in paying the marriage dues. Remember this, and it will contribute to a happy relationship if you get married.
11-15. (a) What does a prospective husband need to realize about a wife’s need for loving attention? (b) What does the Bible say as to the husband’s responsibility in this regard?
11 Perhaps you have heard that husbands frequently complain that their wives are too “cold” to be adequate sex partners. Do you know where the trouble often lies? The Bible states: “Husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself, for no man ever hated his own flesh; but he feeds and cherishes it.” (Ephesians 5:28, 29) Yes, the trouble often lies in the husband’s failure to heed what the Bible here says.
12 Do women really need to be loved by their husbands? Indeed they do. Marriage counselors often emphasize this. It is a basic truth: For wives to be genuinely happy they need to feel that they are loved. So if you should marry, remember that the key to warm marital intimacy is for you to fill this need of your wife to be loved. The Bible urges husbands: “Let each one of you individually so love his wife as he does himself.”—Ephesians 5:33.
13 However, it may be that you will feel that supporting your wife materially will be evidence enough of your love. But if expressions of affection are withheld, what will be the effect on her? The following letter from a wife may give you some idea. She wrote: “Here is my problem: I am so hungry . . . for a little sweet talk, a compliment, the feel of his arm around my waist while I’m cooking—or a chance to sit in his lap. I’d trade all the material things I have for one affectionate squeeze.”
14 Yes, wives need to be shown love. They blossom out when they receive it, becoming more contented and often even more physically attractive. They were created with this need for love. That is why God urges husbands to love their wives. Failure to heed this counsel is a principal cause of the unhappiness found in so many marriages today. Why so?
15 Because a wife starved for her husband’s tenderness and affection is likely to feel insecure and lack confidence regarding her femininity. Even resentment toward her husband may develop, including perhaps a subconscious desire to get even with him for his neglect of her.
16-18. (a) What misconception do some men have about how women like to be treated? (b) What is the meaning of the counsel at 1 Peter 3:7?
16 You may feel, however, that it would be unmanly to treat with love and tenderness the woman you marry. You may even have heard it said that women really like it when they are treated in a rough way. But this is not true. In fact, sex relations for a wife may be unsatisfying, and even unpleasant, if her husband fails to appreciate that she was designed by God to respond to a kind, considerate man, not a harsh, demanding one.
17 The Creator realized that husbands, confronted as they are with so many erroneous ideas, need instruction on how to love their wives. That is why he encourages them to be tender and considerate, saying: “You husbands, continue dwelling in like manner with [your wives] according to knowledge, assigning them honor as to a weaker vessel, the feminine one.”—1 Peter 3:7.
18 When it comes to sexual relations, it is especially important that a husband heed this instruction. He should act in accord with knowledge of how God made women. They usually are not as strong physically as men, and emotionally they are generally more delicate and sentimental than men. So God tells husbands to give wives honor as to a weaker vessel, to be respectful of their emotional makeup, limitations and vicissitudes.
SOLVING OTHER PROBLEMS
19. What else about a woman’s makeup must a man take into account if they are to be happy together? (Colossians 3:12-14)
19 Actually, sex is only a small part of marriage in which God’s instructions need to be applied. When you get married, you will need to realize that your wife’s biological cycle may, at times, affect her adversely in physical, mental and emotional ways. She may then do and say things that she would not ordinarily. You will need to take this into consideration, and not be overly sensitive if occasionally she speaks sharply or acts rashly, but continue to treat her with kindness.
20-24. (a) God created woman with qualities that equip her for what role in marriage? (b) How can a wife show that she really does respect her husband’s headship? (c) What is required of the husband in order to be a truly loving family head?
20 Yet much more is involved. Successful marriage requires cooperation and communication, and to achieve this an understanding of God’s Word will help you. It shows that man and woman were created with somewhat different qualities and responsibilities, with the purpose that their union contribute to mutual happiness. After creating man, the Creator said: “I am going to make a helper for him, as a complement of him.”—Genesis 2:18.
21 The two were thus created to go together; their qualities balanced or complemented one another. Each was created with a need that the other filled. Thus woman was made as a helper to her husband, and in keeping with that role the Bible urges: “Let wives be in subjection to their husbands . . . because a husband is head of his wife.” The Bible also says: “The wife should have deep respect for her husband.” (Ephesians 5:22, 23, 33) This is practical, for if there is no head in the family who receives the respect of his wife, there are usually discord and confusion.
22 Today female aggressiveness and competition with men have become common, and these qualities are noted by marriage counselors to be a source of family problems. So when you get married, you will be wise if you apply Bible counsel. If your husband fails to take the lead as he should, you will want to ask yourself: Can I do more to encourage him to fill his proper role in the family? Do I ask for his suggestions and guidance? Do I indicate that I am looking to him for leadership? Do I avoid belittling what he does? When in small ways he manifests willingness to make decisions or to take the lead in family affairs, do I express appreciation for this?
23 But the man, in particular, is in position to make the marriage succeed by applying Bible counsel. Keep that in mind if you get married. Although you will then, as the husband, be head of the family, that does not make you a dictator. No, for God’s Word commands husbands to love their wives, “just as the Christ also loved the [Christian] congregation and delivered up himself for it.” (Ephesians 5:25) So, applying Bible counsel, you will lovingly and willingly make sacrifices for the woman you marry. Before making decisions you will do well to consider her opinions, her likes and dislikes, even giving her preference when there is no issue at stake. In this way you will show her love and honor, as the Bible commands.
24 By thus heeding God’s counsel, you will enjoy peace and harmony in your marriage, whenever the time for that may come. It will be a real success, resulting in the fulfillment and satisfaction that our Creator purposed for this grand arrangement to bring to humankind.
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For a wife to be happy she needs to feel she is loved
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Really paying attention when your mate speaks is vital to a happy marriage